Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Medicine | By Earnest Bishop

Rex Tillerson Uses 'Palestine' - Will White House Retract Remark Again?

Since his inauguration, Trump has faced a flood of warnings from top Arab diplomats and a personal appeal from Jordan's King Abdullah to not move the United States embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday urged the US to move its embassy to Jerusalem, responding to an earlier statement by US State Secretary Rex Tillerson.

Past administrations have said they would move the us embassy to Jerusalem if Palestine and Israel made peace.

According to the Times of Israel, Netanyahu's office was "shocked" by the comments and has asked the Trump administration about the incident.

Israel has long pressed nations to move their embassies to Jerusalem; Palestinians, and much of the global community, view east Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Just before the end of his tenure, former US President Barack Obama renewed a six-month waiver pushing a decision on whether to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Mr Abbas quickly reasserted the goal of a Palestinian state as vital to any rejuvenated peace process, reiterating that it must have its capital in Jerusalem with borders based on pre-1967 lines.

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Donald Trump is set to meet Palestinian and Israeli leaders nearly back-to-back on his first foreign trip as U.S. President. He has yet to make any concrete moves toward carrying out that promise.

Many Israelis expected the Trump visit would bolster Israel's position on Jerusalem and the peace talks.

Mr Trump promised to move the embassy during his campaign but since taking office has softened his stance on the issue after meeting Arab leaders whose support he wants to enlist as part of a regional Israel-Palestinian peace deal.

Netanyahu's office released quotes from summaries of the prime minister's meetings with Trump to back up its side.

Israel's Channel 2 reported that during a planning meeting between USA and Israeli officials, the Israelis were told that Trump's visit to the Western Wall was private, Israel did not have jurisdiction in the area and that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not welcome to accompany Trump there.

He said Trump's decision would be informed by the parties - "and most certainly Israel's view on whether Israel views it as being helpful to a peace initiative or perhaps a distraction". But Tillerson linked Trump's deliberations directly to his aspirations for brokering Mideast peace.

The US president will start his first ever foreign tour by visiting the Saudi capital on Friday and then will leave for Israel on Monday. He has also accepted an invitation to visit Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

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